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No jury yet in Shenandoah hate crime trial

by Gustavo Martinez Contreras

SCRANTON, PA — After an entire day of proceedings, there is no jury yet for the trial of two Shenandoah, Pa., men charged with federal hate crime in the 2008 beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, an undocumented Mexican immigrant.


Judge Richard A. Caputo dismissed 21 of the 75 prospective jurors and asked the remaining 54 to be back in court tomorrow to continue with the individual questionings at 9 a.m.

“The questions are designed to find a fair and impartial jury,” Judge Caputo told the jurors before the individual interviews started inside a meeting room.

Brandon J. Piekarsky (green shirt) and Derrick M. Donchak (blue shirt) leaving the William J. Nealon United States Courthouse in Scranton, Pa., where today is set to start the federal trial against them for the fatal beating of Luis Eduardo Ramírez Zavala.

Derrick M. Donchak, 20, and Brandon J. Piekarsky, 18, face life in prison if found guilty of the charges stemming from the beating that took the life of Ramírez Zavala on July 12, 2008.

Both are accused of violating Ramírez Zavala’s civil rights motivated by the fact that he was Hispanic and lived in a dwelling there, according to the federal indictment.

Mr. Donchak is also charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

This is not the first time both men go to court. Mr. Donchak and Mr. Piekarski were acquitted of racial intimidation charges after a week-long state trial in April 2009.

Under a persistent rain, both men showed up this morning at the William J. Nealon Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in Scranton shortly after 8 a.m.

Inside the building waited the pool of 75 jurors from across the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

There were also representatives from the Mexican Consulate, who said they would be present for the entire trial.

WFTE Trial English 001 by Gustavo Martinez

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